Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
Well boys and girls, it is that time of year again, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (summer).
As per our tradition we will be dining out at 3 new restaurants offering special menus/dishes for the week. This time around we will be dining at Altius(Mt. Washington), Grit&Grace(Downtown), and La Palapa(South Side). Our first stop will be Altius.
For the younger crowd (Can I still consider 30 part of that crowd? God I hope so!) Mt Washington has not offered a worthy dining destination for a long time. Le Mont is dated and pretentious at best, same as Monterey Bay. Isabella on Grandview hasn’t been the same since the Leiphart’s left. A few people will argue that La Tavolo is worth the trip; I politely disagree with that notion. We have dined there twice, food was good but not spectacular, view was nonexistent as well ambiance/décor. Sorry not hating, just saying. The old Georgetown Inn sat vacant for a while. So besides the incline and the view there weren’t too many reasons to trek up Mt Washington (unless maybe you live there).
Altius hopefully is here to change that; at least the one meal we had there made it seem that way. The team of B DeFrancis and Chef Jessica Bauer (also behind the successful Mt Lebo hot-spot Bistro 19) decided to gut the old Georgetown Inn and breath new life into the old girl. Altius translates to “higher” in Latin and their “slogan” is Elevated Cuisine. Get it?! Because the restaurant is located on Mt Washington! Oh man, super clever! Ok, enough back story on to the restaurant itself.
Everyone knows the view from up here is breathtaking, even on the cloudiest of days. The problem for the restaurants that have occupied “Restaurants Row” have simply been relying on the view and putting the food on the back burner. The space here is beautiful and very modern; they don’t have the décor competing with the view. We love the gray color scheme with the dark wood tables, but the windows are of course the best part of the building itself.
We are seated upstairs right up against the glass (Excellent!) and are immediately served a container of truffled popcorn. A deliciously unexpected surprise to the meal. Our server (Wendy- she was wonderful!) came over to welcome us and take our drink order. D planned on doing the wine pairing with the Restaurant Week menu, I however was in the mood for bourbon. I was going to just go classic on the rocks bourbon but after seeing the cocktail menu I changed course. I ordered the Peach Cobbler, which was made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, muddled peaches, Dubonnet and lemon. Wonderful drink, not overly sweet, you could taste everything equally. They also serve some wonderful fresh baked bread served with honey butter and sun-dried tomato pesto, don’t skip the bread here.
The special Restaurant Week Menu is 3 courses with 2 options for each course. Naturally D and I will just order 1 of everything and share. Apps for this evening were a creamy zucchini blossom risotto and bison tartare served with a soft poached egg. Both dishes were delicious, well balanced and just the right size.
For entrees D was served the Balsamic and shallot glazed black cod served atop smashed fingerling potatoes and a summer succotash. The cod and succotash were delicious but I feel the potatoes were a tad too heavy as a starch. I went with the braised Jamison Farm lamb with tomatoes, zucchini, spinach and tossed with orchiette then topped with sheep’s milk ricotta. I am a sucker for braised lamb, it is just awesome (especially when it is Jamison Farms). The sheep’s milk was fabulous as well, super creamy.
Desserts were outstanding, especially with how simple they both were. D went with the half-baked brownie with fresh fruit and berry puree. I devoured my vanilla and brown sugar cheesecake served next to a spoon full of thick and rich caramel. Great meal from start to finish, no course fell short of the others.
We are very happy Altius has joined the Mt Washington dining scene. There seems to be a restaurant that will hold its own against the view. Now, Altius is not immediately jumping in to my top 10 list; but I still would confidently recommend it to any of our friends. Naturally it is a perfect spot for a romantic couples night out. However, with the bar menu and starters it would be a wonderful spot just to meet friends and catch up while getting lost in the view. So we would like to thank Altius for making us want to make the journey up to Grandview Avenue.
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1230 Grandview Ave
Pgh, PA 15211
Soon to open for Brunch on Sunday from 10:30am-2pm